The Syrian conflict and ensuing refugee crisis continues to reach new heights, as Lebanon received its one millionth refugee. The nation of about 5 million people is now holding the equivalent of an additional fifth of their population. Resources continue to be strained and worries are raised over a sectarian conflict spreading in the region. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has said that Lebanon now has the highest refugee population per capita worldwide.
Unfortunately, the refugee influx into Lebanon has left no signs of slowing up. The UNHCR has recorded that the refugee influx has increased exponentially over the course of the conflict and has found that 2,500 new refugees are arriving in Lebanon every day. Until the end of the violence in Syria, it is not known when this crisis can become manageable.
Across all countries, the United Nations has recorded 2.58 million refugees, with extensive populations in Jordan and Turkey as well as Lebanon. The nations of Europe are starting to become more involved in the refugee process, taking some pressure off the limited resources in the Middle East. There remains little talk over peace negotiations between the two sides in the conflict.
World Bank estimates say that Lebanon has lost $2.5 billion in economic activity over the course of the Syrian conflict. As a result of this lost economic activity, 170,000 Lebanese are projected to be driven into poverty by the end of 2014. Meanwhile, 400,000 child refugees are starting to go into public school, but the current infrastructure will be hard-pressed to meet this population’s needs. Lebanese schools have taken in 100,000 refugees, but according to un.org their ability to accept anymore will be “severely limited.”
Some outside groups have attempted to bolster the relief efforts for these refugees. Malala Yousafzai announced efforts to raise $500 million for the education of refugees in Lebanon. Also, the United Nations has appealed for $1.89 billion for this year in efforts to raise awareness. However, that initiative still is trying to get off the ground, as only $242 million has been raised so far.
The struggles of Syrian refugees has been written about extensively, yet, even as one of the most pressing humanitarian crises of the present day, it still seems to have had an underwhelming response from the world at large. Organizations like the Borgen Project encourage and advocate for these refugees but, while the West is beginning efforts to alleviate the refugee crisis, there is still too much being left by the wayside for the Syrian people.
– Eric Gustafsson